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The tools and the meaning of his life as we know it

In the interests of keeping an open mind and maintaining a decent level of respect for all the opinions aired as to what the tools in the suitcase represent, may I submit the following opinions, all carefully culled from extensive, worldwide research.

(1) The square of metal foil. 

This was planted by persons unknown as a means of distracting the police investigation from the true nature of the suitcase owner’s visit to Adelaide. Gordon  Cramer.

This was part of a prospector’s kit. B. Deveson.

Any idiot would know it could be used to short-start a car ignition. Dude47.

This was used to protect the scissors and knife which were also found in the suitcase. Detective Len Brown.

What he said. Derek Abbott.

What better place to wrap a nugget of Nepalese black hashish to get past customs, and don’t tell me it wasn’t around in 1948. Peter Bowes.

Working on it. John Sanders.

(2) The scissors.

These were planted by persons unknown as a means of distracting the police investigation from the true nature of the suitcase owner’s visit to Adelaide. Gordon  Cramer.

He had nicely trimmed fingernails, scissors do that. Peter Bowes.

Any idiot would know they could be used to strip ignition wires. Dude47.

They were used to cut soft metal in the making of stencils by a ship’s Third Officer. Detective Len Brown.

What he said. Derek Abbott.

Working on it. John Sanders.

(3) The table-knife snapped to a point.

This was planted by persons unknown as a means of distracting the police investigation from the true nature of the suitcase owner’s visit to Adelaide. Gordon  Cramer.

He was an untidy eater. Peter Bowes.

Any idiot would know it could be used to pop a lock in a locked car. Dude47.

This was used to cut soft metal in the making of stencils by a ship’s Third Officer. Detective Len Brown.

What he said. Derek Abbott.

Working on it. John Sanders and Clive.

(4) The brush.

This was planted by persons unknown as a means of distracting the police investigation from the true nature of the suitcase owner’s visit to Adelaide. Gordon  Cramer.

He was an artist, they use brushes. Peter Bowes.

Any idiot would know it could be used to apply graphite to a lock prior to popping it open. Dude47.

This was used to mark-up cargo by a ship’s Third Officer. Detective Len Brown.

What the detective said. Professor Derek Abbott.

Working on it. John Sanders, Clive and Mr Smith.

The six pencils.

These were planted by persons unknown as a means of distracting the police investigation from the true nature of the suitcase owner’s visit to Adelaide. Gordon  Cramer.

He got a bulk special at the local newsagent. Peter Bowes.

Any idiot would know they could be used as a supply of graphite. Dude47.

Give us a minute. Detective Len Brown.

Coffee, anyone? Derek Abbott.

Working on it. John Sanders, Clive, Mr Smith and Pete Davo.

The black powder shaken from the brush.

This was planted by persons unknown as a means of distracting the police investigation away from the true nature of the suitcase owner’s visit to Adelaide. Gordon  Cramer.

Uranium. Byron Deveson.

Any idiot would know it was graphite residue. Dude47.

Black chalk, or something, whatever. It was used to mark up cargo by a ship’s third officer. Detective Len Brown.

There you have it. Derek Abbott.

Ballet flats get dirty, they need cleaning, brushes do that. Peter Bowes.

FuckedifIknow. Senior South Australian Government Analyst Cowan.

Working on it. As above. Plus Nick Pelling.

The bobby-pin

Sometimes a guy needs something to remember the girl he met nine months before she had his baby. Peter Bowes

Any idiot would know it could be used manipulate the gadgets in a car lock. Dude47.

Prospector’s don’t get to the barber as often as most, so they need something to keep the hair out of their eyes. Byron Deveson.

What bobby-pin? Detective Len Brown.

More coffee, anyone? Derek Abbott.

This was planted by persons unknown as a means of distracting the police investigation from the true nature of the suitcase owner’s visit to Adelaide. Gordon  Cramer.

Working on it. John sanders, Clive, Mr Smith, Pete Davo, Dome.

The screwdriver.

This was planted by persons unknown as a means of distracting the police investigation from the true nature of the suitcase owner’s visit to Adelaide. Gordon  Cramer.

What’s the mystery, doesn’t everyone have one? Peter Bowes.

Ditto my previous. Dude 47.

I must have missed that. Detective Len Brown.

Derek, come back, it’s nearly over. Gerry Feltus.

Working on it. John sanders, Clive, Mr Smith, Pete Davo, Dome.

54 Comments Post a comment
  1. пожалуйста #

    I think there’s another tool in the suitcase inventory (listed in official documents) that doesn’t make it into the canonical list of SM’s toolkit:

    A broken pair of scissors.

    “Broken” just exactly how? And for what purpose?

    Anyone care to speculate?

    April 4, 2020
    • The scissors weren’t broken. The table knife was. Pic added.

      April 4, 2020
      • пожалуйста #

        According to at least one inventory doc I have seen, there was a second pair of scissors, broken, not sheathed.

        I will see if I can find the reference again. But you guys may have the materials more easily to hand?

        April 4, 2020
      • пожалуйста #

        Found a reference to a second pair of scissors, “broken” in DA’s list on his wiki:

        https://www.eleceng.adelaide.edu.au/personal/dabbott/wiki/index.php/List_of_facts_we_do_know_about_the_Somerton_Man#Contents_of_the_suitcase

        Other items on this list could also be considered “tools”, e.g. three safety pins, one piece of light board, two coat hangers.

        April 4, 2020
        • Derek Abbott’s Wiki used to say that the two seamen from the SS Cycle who were the last to see the body were looking for their missing crewman named Tom Keane.

          April 4, 2020
  2. If your doc was a newspaper, forgeddaboudit.

    April 4, 2020
  3. sanders #

    What screwdriver, what broken scissors. No photos of either on any of the Sapol suitcase happy snap pics means they didn’t exist according to the rules on evidence. PS Did any idiot find a use for the cut-throat razor.and the mini hacksaw.

    April 4, 2020
    • пожалуйста #

      OK, so what are the sources for the tools beyond the photos?

      What’s the likely most reliable inventory list that is available to us? Preferably the earliest.

      April 4, 2020
      • Feltus.

        April 4, 2020
        • пожалуйста #

          No comment.

          April 4, 2020
          • Not acceptable. Why?

            April 4, 2020
            • пожалуйста #

              It’s largely a secondary source as I understand. By nature, that is coloured by assumptions. Fine if you’re looking for an interpretation. But no substitute for the source material if you’re looking to build something new.

              In the last two comment threads now we have bumped up against the ‘limitations’ of The Unknown Man.

              To be clear: I’m not impugning anyone’s work or their motives. The book was, I’m sure, not intended as primary source material.

              April 4, 2020
              • The one great problem we face isn’t so much this bloke’s ID, but the shallowness of the reporting by the newspapers, journalists, TV commentators, pod-casters, lawyers of great standing and you name it everyone else who likes to dip their toes into the mystery. Here and abroad.
                Where else but here can you read of the investigative fuck-ups, the contradictions with regard to evidence, the bumbling inarticulate attempts by the leading investigators.
                From Abbott? Not a word. If a man tries to engage him in discussion, with vigour, he is banned from comment. Same with Cramer. Same with half-a-bloody dozen forums who would rather chase the espionage rabbit.
                Wait for the next article or TV spot … Nothing will have changed, except we will all be older as we wait for the S.A. government to release their DNA findings. The delay there is another mystery in itself.
                It’s enough to drive a man to drink.

                And a big thank you, Boris, you’ve brought out the best in us.

                April 5, 2020
  4. lewiansto #

    What about the loupe? Haven’t seen any mention of that in recent discussions of SM’s tools

    April 4, 2020
    • Problem there is that it was confused with the razor strop … and howyezgoin Lew?

      April 4, 2020
      • lewiansto #

        All good here mate, Cheers! Hadn’t heard about it being confused with the strop. Just googled a pic of his stuff and it looked to me like the strop and the “loupe” are on opposite sides of the pic. (I’m assuming the thing with the red handle is the strop)

        April 4, 2020
        • Mate, you and I know that the whole business is full of holes … but WTF, it only makes it more interesting.

          April 4, 2020
          • lewiansto #

            True dat! 👍

            April 4, 2020
    • пожалуйста #

      There’s no mention of a loupe or similar optical device in the inquest inventory. Is one mentioned elsewhere? Where?

      If so, is there an assumption that there’s a mistranscription of the word “loop”, pertaining e.g. to the hanging/securing device at the end of the “razor strop”?

      Seems odd.

      April 4, 2020
      • lewiansto #

        Reckon I first saw mention of the loupe here:. https://tamamshud.blogspot.com/2014/09/somerton-man-suitcase-contents.html?m=1

        April 5, 2020
        • пожалуйста #

          Looks a bit less like scissors in GC’s image.

          Byron, would you recognise that implement as a “loupe”? It looks to me like a small magnifying glass, circular, about the size of a monocle but with a handle extending from it.

          For some reason, I imagined a “loupe” to be one of those things you jammed into your eye when playing a pawnbroker or fence in a noir.

          April 6, 2020
  5. пожалуйста #

    Page 23 of the ’49 inquest. Detective Leane testifies that the suitcase contained a broken pair of scissors in addition to the “canonical” sheathed scissors.

    https://www.eleceng.adelaide.edu.au/personal/dabbott/wiki/index.php/The_Taman_Shud_Case_Coronial_Inquest#Page_23

    April 4, 2020
    • Yeah, it does. Maybe someone could send GF an email and ask him howcome. He only listed one pair of scissors, unbroken. Same as the pic.

      April 4, 2020
  6. dude47 #

    The tools were directly related to his purpose for visiting Adelaide. Had to be.

    Makes no sense to pack a broken pair of scissors along with a working pair . Conclusion pair number 1 broke during the trip and a replacement pair purchased DURING the trip. Didn’t wait till he got home.

    Why is that important because it highlights the fact that he wasn’t just shlepping around these random items around, they were required items.

    So once again if he’s going to visit his ex and get look at his kid what possible reason would he have for carrying these particular tools and going out of his way to replace faulty items?

    In other words if you’ve got a theory other than thief fine as long as you can fit the tools into it .

    Otherwise go back and have a think about it . You can’t just say “apart from the tools my theory makes sense”
    Thats like saying “apart from that Mrs Kennedy how as our visit to Dallas ?”

    April 5, 2020
    • Beats me why Feltus only listed one pair of scissors and Leane two. Reading his book, I get the impression Feltus indirectly blames Leane for just about everything that went wrong .. I posted on that a few years ago then got the hump with everything and scrubbed it. Time for another look I reckon.

      April 5, 2020
    • пожалуйста #

      Is it possible that “broken” to Detective Leane isn’t “faulty” but ‘customised’ to Keane? In much the same way that we view a ‘broken’ table knife as a customised tool-of-trade (because of its custom-made sheath).

      It would help if we knew how the scissors were broken.

      April 5, 2020
      • The fact that Feltus only mentioned one pair and only one was photographed leaves doubt, for me at least. And when Leane visited the School of Arts with the tools and asked the headmaster what he thought they might be used for it appears he only took one pair of scissors, as well as the knife and square of metal.

        April 5, 2020
        • пожалуйста #

          Fair point.

          I just wondered whether, for example, a half pair of scissors, detached at the hinge, would be a recognizable implement e.g. for forcing locks or stripping wires.

          April 5, 2020
          • Not a lot of difference between that and a table knife snapped off to a point, except in width.

            April 5, 2020
            • пожалуйста #

              Yes. We’d need to know the size of the scissors to judge whether they might have been used for different jobs.

              April 5, 2020
    • lewiansto #

      G’day Dude! Not sure about your conclusion that the scissors were a replacement bought on the trip. They look pretty well used. I guess they could be secondhand, but then the sheath, which appears to be a perfect fit also looks like it’s seen a fair bit of handling. I would guess that if he was indeed carrying around a broken pair of scissors he had them for a specific purpose. What that could be…no f’n idea!

      April 6, 2020
  7. пожалуйста #

    In the picture above, is the table knife (‘snapped to a point’) shown with a metallic cover over the blade? It seems that way to me, but the image resolution makes it difficult to be certain. I’ve read mention of zinc being used to protect the tools. It looks to me as if the knife is shown already protected in that way.

    If that’s so, can anyone think of a reason beyond belt-and-braces why the knife would need both a metallic (zinc) cover and the cloth-tape sheath shown next to it?

    April 5, 2020
    • The piece of metal looks way too small to effectively wrap up the knife and scissor blades, and the crease down the middle looks about right for wrapping it around a couple of exposed wire ends.

      April 5, 2020
      • пожалуйста #

        Yes. But I think the knife in the picture might be in a metal sheath already. The shape of the blade near the hilt is all wrong. It looks like there’s a folded layer of metal wrapped around it.

        April 5, 2020
        • Looks more like adhesive bandage … stained up with graphite.

          April 5, 2020
          • пожалуйста #

            Just to make certain: are we talking about the same thing? What I mean is this:

            The image above shows 2 knife-related items:

            1) the knife
            2) a sheath made of wound tape that appears to match the shape of the knife.

            My observation is:

            In the case of 1) we are not looking at the knife blade. We are looking at the knife handle and a folded cover that is sheathing the blade.

            The alternative image from the Herald might be helpful here.

            http://myweb.students.wwu.edu/wannere/360/project2/tamamshud.html#suitcase

            It shows the knife 1) inserted into the cloth tape sheath 2). But clearly visible in this image is a further sheath of some sort (giving the appearance of being metallic) between the blade and the cloth tape sheath.

            Given this, my question is:

            Is there any reason for this arrangement? Does the knife blade need to be “double protected” in this way? Or is the ‘metallic’ wrap around the blade functional in some other way?

            April 5, 2020
          • пожалуйста #

            Here’s a direct link to the image showing sheathed knife clearly wrapped in secondary layer of metallic appearing material.

            April 5, 2020
            • Sure it’s not a reflection on the semi-exposed blade?

              April 5, 2020
              • пожалуйста #

                I don’t *think* so. Look at the roughness and slightly convex shape of the supposed cutting edge near the hilt. And the clear vertical line of transition between ‘blade’ and a different material with a different surface texture. It doesn’t look like a blade to me. I think that’s a cover or a “wrap” of some sort.

                It’s making me think: have we sufficiently explored and questioned the definition of “knife”? What if the “knife” is not the tool, but the material wrapping it is? Or at least, what if the material wrapping the blade is a substantive, functional part of the tool. The “knife” could just be a means of holding and securing it.

                I’m not proposing this as a ‘solution’. It’s just seems strikingly odd that a knife is “snapped” (really?) into a shape and then wrapped in something that is probably a different kind of metal. And that whole arrangement is then given a protective cloth-tape/bandage sheath.

                So, what metal was the wrap made of? Zinc? If so, is that a pointer? Do we need Byron to cast his eye over this? El Duderino? And some safe-crackin’ buddies?

                April 5, 2020
                • One pic has the metal separate, the other has it wrapped around the blade and the blade inserted into the sheath .. possibly to safeguard the sharpened blade from cutting into it .. how’s that sound?

                  April 5, 2020
                  • пожалуйста #

                    I don’t agree. Look at the top picture (in the post): here, the knife is withdrawn from the cloth-tape sheath, which lies to its side.

                    But on closer inspection, the blade is wrapped in metal, exactly as suggested by the image in the comments. We are not looking at the blade. We are looking at the wrap.

                    In fact, I don’t think there are any extant images of the blade itself. Only of a knife wrapped in metal foil of some sort.

                    This suggests that as the knife was withdrawn from the sheath for the photograph, the metal wrap stayed with the blade, not the cloth-tape sheath.

                    It might also suggest that whoever took the photos (overseen by Detective Leane, IIRC) felt that the metal wrap was an integral part of the tool.

                    April 5, 2020
                    • Where, exactly, is this getting us?

                      April 5, 2020
  8. пожалуйста #

    Good question: where is this getting us?

    My take:

    1) Agreeing with Mr. Albini, lately of Chicago, Ill., we believe a man can be known by his tools.

    2) We have already shown that the canonical view of SM’s tools does not include at least one further item: a broken pair of scissors. There are also further odds and ends that could be part of a toolkit that have as yet been ignored: a piece of light card/board, some safety pins.

    3) We now find that one of the canonical tools, the knife-snapped-to-a-point is potentially not quite what it seems.

    To mind, this gets us to a place where we’re prompted to ask ourselves: how are we defining the scope of “tools” when looking at the inventory of the suitcase? Are we focussing on bladed instruments, screwdrivers and brushes because they’re the most “tool-like” to us? Are we assuming the tools were intended to be used in such a way as their original design suggests. A knife is a flat-bladed instrument designed for cutting and stabbing. It is often (ab)used for other purposes , e.g. levering. But a knife that is wrapped in a layer of metal foil? Could that be used for something else? Likewise, the “broken” scissors. Broken to us… but customised to SM?

    So, regarding the knife then, some questions:

    A) what would the table knife have been made from? Silver or steel? The latter stainless or mild? If the metal wrap is zinc (as suggested in the literature) then would it serve as a protective cover? An anti-corrosive?

    B) if the metal is zinc, is there a reasonable guess we can make as to what use a pointed zinc implement might be (rather than a steel or silver one). Any metallurgical reason ?

    April 5, 2020
    • Wait one. I’ll email Byron, wherever he is.

      April 5, 2020
  9. lewiansto #

    I’m assuming the round thing to right, partially hidden under the ties is what has been referred to a “loupe”. As mentioned above, no reference to a loupe in the listed contents. Could whatever that is possibly have been mistaken for a broken pair of scissors I wonder. Also, those coathanger things just above would have been pretty handy for breaking into cars, wouldn’t they?

    April 5, 2020
  10. Byron Deveson #

    Field test for the common mineral elements.
    By George H. Roseveare. US Geological Survey. Bulletin 175.
    1966

    Field tests are the tests a prospector performs out in the bush to identify minerals.
    There are 42 references to “knife” including 38 for “knife blade”.
    There is also a description of a test for the mineral cassiterite which is a common tin ore, particularly in Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia (remember the Japanese tooth paste?) that uses a piece of zinc.

    But, the metal foil isn’t zinc. Zinc is brittle. Yes, a zinc coating on metals like steel isn’t brittle (the coating is too thin). It can’t be zinc or tin plated steel because steel doesn’t crease like the metal foil has. It looks like a soft metal and the only thing I can think of is platinum foil (I was a trainee metallurgist a long time ago. I am also a prospector and a chemist). Even the colour is right for a well used piece of platinum foil in a prospector’s tool kit.
    Many pre-1960 books on prospecting for minerals will explain how platinum foil was used. Ion Idriess’ book “Fortunes in minerals” is one Australian example.

    As to why the platinum foil was essentially hidden, well maybe it was serving also to protect the knife blade but it may have been deliberately hidden to prevent anyone from stealing it (not unknown in outback bush camps and outback bush pubs).
    There was a loupe and a brush, common items in a prospectors kit. I suspect that anything else of much value was stolen from the unlocked suitcase, probably including a bank pass book. Remember that it was claimed that the second phone number was for a bank in Adelaide? “Stealin’ from dead un’s” was a common past time in the past, even amongst police, and this might be the reason why the case has been run into the ground. From memory the Glenelg policeman was demoted a few months after and was never to rise. Maybe he didn’t share.

    One other thing that I would mention is something similar to the fallacy of a single cause. SM could have been a prospector, a car thief and some sort of spy all rolled into one.

    April 5, 2020
    • пожалуйста #

      Just want to get this clear in my own mind: is there any evidence of a “loupe” (optical device) being part of the inventory?

      IIRC there’s no mention of one in Leane’s testimony?

      There doesn’t appear to be evidence of a loupe in any photograph.

      Trying to figure out where the notion of a loupe has come from.

      April 6, 2020
      • пожалуйста #

        Have responded upstream to Lewi’s helpful post referring to GC’s photo page of suitcase contents. In short, the “loupe” looks less like scissors than I thought, maybe. Would be great if Byron could take a look and comment from a prospector’s point of view.

        April 6, 2020
  11. пожалуйста #

    Yeah, I’d say the metallic item protruding to the right of the bundle of ties looks like the broken scissors. So they have been broken apart at the hinge. That makes for sharpened point implement, but also one that could exert greater torque on a lock than, say, a table knife with a bone or resin handle.

    And yes again: the wire items that give the appearance of coat hangers. Quite meaty.

    Also, what’s the loop shaped item sitting between the stencilling brush and the white tube? Also a “coat hanger”?

    April 6, 2020
  12. пожалуйста #

    Just for ‘balance’ and to ensure we don’t just hare off and dismiss the work of Detective Leane and colleagues: check out Page 2, left column, third paragraph of this:

    https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=HIodsy6MbdIC&pg=PA2&lpg=PA2&dq=stencilling+knife&source=bl&ots=Jjx4Zip6hu&sig=ACfU3U118uaTKzb4VhzDEvy6PEPPcHfxOg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjKvpPAjtHoAhUQSxUIHcvnAaYQ6AEwEXoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=stencilling%20knife&f=false

    The pay off is in the last sentence.

    “I have seen an excellent tool ground down from an ordinary table knife”.

    April 6, 2020
  13. пожалуйста #

    Gordon has just posted some helpful images of scissors that seem to match the basic design of the implement shown in the storeroom suitcase photo.

    April 6, 2020
    • One day Gordon might list the items he insists were planted and another of those he feels were not …

      April 6, 2020
  14. lewiansto #

    Just having another look at the pic of the suitcase contents. It looks to me like the metal foil is towards the upper right of the pile of stuff, next to the scissors (in their sheath). The sheath of the knife is lower down in the pic.

    Obviously we probably can’t assume anything with too much confidence but it kinda looks like everything has more or less just been dumped out of the suitcase.

    If that is the case the fact that they are separate in this pic might argue against the metal foil and the knife having anything to do with each other.

    April 6, 2020
    • Lew, have a look at the tools laid out on the Masonic folder and you’ll see the foil wrapped around the sharp edge of the blade … that would have been done before it was slipped into its sheath.

      April 7, 2020

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